Anon soldier during exercise on Falklands Onion Ranges

Nearly One In Five Young Recruits Leave Military Before Turning 18

Out of the three services, the Royal Navy saw the largest proportion of under 18s leave service during 2016/17.

Anon soldier during exercise on Falklands Onion Ranges

(Picture: MOD).

Almost one in five under 18s who join the military leave before their 18th birthday, according to statistics released by defence minister Tobias Ellwood.

During 2016/17, more than 21% of under 18s in the Navy left before they were 18, 20% of Army under 18s left before reaching the age, while more than 7% of under 18s left the RAF before their 18th birthday.

The amount of young recruits leaving the military peaked in 2009/10 (the earliest period for which statistics were provided), while the fewest left service in 2012/13.

During the eight financial years for which the statistics were released between 2009 and 2017, the RAF had the lowest proportion of under 18s leave out of the tri-services.